Leaving the corporate world was not the end for Jackie Robertson, but rather the beginning of a new life and career centred around food, family and community.
In November 2014, Jackie Robertson and her husband John opened Frog and Swallow Cafe in Allora, basing the name on Jackie’s successful line of gourmet preserves launched in 2012.
“We chose Allora as it is our home town and it is such an historic and pretty village and enjoys growing tourism,” Jackie said. “I’ve always wanted to be involved in food tourism and I thought it was a terrific place to bring that to life.”
Choosing the menu for Frog and Swallow Cafe was easy, Jackie says. “At the time the only offerings in the area were fast food and sandwiches,” she explains. “Whilst they have their place, it is not the type of food I like to eat or my family likes to eat. I wanted to build an environment whereby my customers were just like my family or friends coming over to eat.”
The Frog and Swallow Cafe menu features local, seasonal ingredients. “We are very proud of the environment we have created along with the fierce belief in using local products and produce,” Jackie said. “We have developed strong relationships with our suppliers who know what we’re on about and are used to telling me where the product or produce came from. As a locavore, this is incredibly important to me.”
Jackie is also a believer in offering truly handmade food to her guests. “I decided to make all the cakes and slices in house,” she said, “and our other menu items are made from scratch, highlighting the sauces and condiments that we also make through Frog and Swallow Gourmet Preserves.”
All of Jackie’s preserves are made with local fruit whenever possible. “I delight in the changes of the seasons, using fresh and plentiful produce in their seasons,” Jackie said. “Our condiments include gluten and dairy free chocolate sauces, savoury sauces and sweet lavender and rose syrups. Our sweet lines include jams, marmalades and jellies, and our savoury lines include pickles, chutneys and relishes, all made in the time honoured traditional way, in small batches.”
In 2015, Jackie started offering seasonal preserve making classes at the cafe, and over the festive season she taught a Christmas cookery class which included all the confectionery and foodie gifts she makes year in, year out. Jackie looks forward to offering more classes this year. “We are currently developing a basic cooking class for children over 12 years,” Jackie said. “I adore working with children and youth; they are so honest and are hungry to learn. The pride they take in what they cook is fantastic and keeps me grounded to not lose the sight of our dream to offer good, honest, fresh and flavoursome food that is comforting.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/frogandswallowcafe
Frog and Swallow Cafe is at 72 Herbert Street, Allora
Words by Krista Bjorn | Images by Cory Rossiter